The 10th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew is intense. It has some serious implications. Jesus is sending the 12 disciples out on a mission. The scene Matthew sets up reminds me of a very important briefing to a police unit or soldiers before an important special operation. Their leader is giving them logistical, tactical, and missional instructions, as well as motivation.
Some of what Jesus says to them was probably hard to understand at the time.
He warns them to beware of many dangers, but also to use those situations to share the gospel without anger if need be. He says to be shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. He tells them not to take any money and rely on the generosity of those who give it. A great task is laid out before them with many challenges and specific instructions, and He lets them know that if they claim to follow Him they will be treated with great hatred…that they may be overtaken, arrested, beaten, or even killed. In verse 28, he says: “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
I can only say at that point, if I had been in their shoes (or sandals), I would have been very afraid of the possibilities that lay ahead.
But that is something for us to consider…
The same God that sent them out has sent us out for the same cause. We could see a day when the dangers that met them find us out as well. In fact, so many brothers and sisters in Christ around the world meet similar challenges every day. The prevalence of the Christian Martyr in our world is staggering.
Not only must we pray and stand with these fellow believers, but we must take up our cross as they have theirs. Jesus tells His disciples in verse 38 and 39: “If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. 39 If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.”
Many who claim Christ will not live this calling out. If mild American persecution is too much for us, then we can safely say we wouldn’t do too well with this same mission given to the disciples. If we get offended by Facebook posts to the point of disengagement, then getting arrested and beaten while loving the captors would probably be too much for us to handle.
I pray that we are ready to meet peril for the cause of Christ, as many are every day. There will probably be someone being slain for the Christian mission they chose to accept as I’m writing this. Let us pray with and for them, and be ready to follow Jesus at any cost as they have.
This is our calling as Christians, and when we accept the highest calling, we will realize how unimportant some of our past personal crusades have been.
To what and where may God be calling you today? We all have to explore that our lives today. We may not have tomorrow to do it.